In most of our blog posts, we take the opportunity to introduce you to documents held at Hampshire Record Office that we know something about. The main qualification for items to appear this week, by contrast, is that we don’t know much about them, or at any rate not as much as we should like to.

When we catalogue documents, we do try to work out the places and people that they relate to, although this can take a little detective work: sometimes, for instance, we can identify the location of a building shown in a photograph by comparing it with other photographs of a likely building. Most of the photographs that we receive arrive as part of the archive of a family, an estate or an organisation, and that can give us a clue to the likely location.

There are times, however, when there are no clues that give us any idea of the likely area to look in. It’s frustrating to think that a photograph we are struggling to identify may be the only illustration we hold of a particular scene, but if we cannot work out where it was taken, future researchers will be unable to make use of it.

f 79a01-G1-05Can you identify this pub?

So, over to you! This post features a selection of photographs of places or people that we can’t identify, and other items which for some reason or another are puzzling us. We hope that you will recognise some of the scenes shown, or be able to suggest some possible lines we could follow up.

We begin with three photographs from a series of over 250 glass plate negatives of scenes in New Forest and elsewhere, photographed by James Seton Coventry (1849-1917) of Burgate Manor, between about 1890-1900, and deposited in Hampshire Record Office by the late Philip Allison, ref 33M84.

Most of them have been identified, but do you recognise this thatched cottage (33M84/25/26)?

a 33m84-25-26

…or this cottage, or the people in the garden (33M84/25/80)?

b 33m84-25-80

…or what about this cluster of cottages (33M84/25/85)?

c 33m84-25-85

Churches and schools are often easy to identify, but we have not discovered the location of the church shown in this watercolour (TOP404/2/1 (L)).

d TOP404_2_1(L)

We are also puzzling over this sepia photograph of an ivy-clad building, which was perhaps a chapel or a school. We assume it was in the Romsey area, as it is within the Romsey parish records, but we can’t be sure (10M58/PJ7).

e 10M58_PJ7_1-1

Moving from the country to the town: we hold a large archive of the business records of breweries in Hampshire that became part of the Whitbread Group, and these include a set of photographs of pubs owned by Aldridge & Son Ltd’s Bedford Brewery, based in Bedford Place, Southampton. Most of them have been identified, but can you recognise this pub, or the people – perhaps including the licensee and family outside (79A01/G1/1/5)? Albion Arms at 1 Albion Place, on the corner of Albion Place and Castle Lane (Southampton). The pub was the Spread Eagle, 1811 onwards, the Stag in the 1830s, the Albion Arms in the 1840s, the County Court Inn in the 1860s and the Brazier’s Arms in the 1870s. It was bombed out during WW2. (SOLVED)

f 79a01-G1-05

Even relatively modern photographs can be tricky to identify. We hold a large series of photographs taken in the 1960s-80s by a member of the County Planning Department, which include some copies of earlier photographs. Almost all of them are identified, but can you help us with the following three: a copy of a photograph dating from about 1901, showing an imposing but unidentified house at Kings Somborne (7M91/330/1/9)?

g 7m91-330-1-9

… or this mill (7M91/156/2)? This mill has been identified as Nursling Mill (SOLVED)

h 7m91-156-1-2

…or this large house, believed to be in the New Forest, and photographed in 1973 (7M91/398/9)?

i 7m91-398-3-3

This drawing is labelled ‘?Rickelford House’. It was received with a group of documents relating to Lymington, but no such house has been identified in the Lymington area – do you recognise it (44A04/9)?

j 44A04_9

The next three items come from an album believed to have been compiled by Elizabeth, wife of the Revd Thomas Woodhouse (eldest son of Thomas John Woodhouse of Leominster, Herefordshire); Mr Woodhouse was the Rector of Otterhampton, Somerset, 1867-71, and Vicar of Ropley, Hampshire, from 1871. The album includes several photographs of Ropley church, but also many unidentified photographs, pencil sketches and other drawings.Do you recognise the house and garden shown in these two photographs (8M65/2)?

k 8M65_2-1

l 8M65_2-2

Or the location where this sketch was produced (8M65/2)?

m 8M65_2-3

Finally, discovering that one of your ancestors, or someone who used to live in your house, kept a diary can be exciting, so it is frustrating that we haven’t been able to identify ‘Emma’ who kept this diary in 1784. She seems to be living or boarding at Tangley, perhaps at a private school, and the diary records her days there; nearby places such as Charlton and Enham are also mentioned. It would be good to be able to add her surname to our catalogue entry (29M69/1).

n 29M69_1

We will be very grateful for any suggestions you can make, even if you are not sure if they are right. Please contact us on social media or using the contact page linked from the lower right hand corner of our homepage at


David Rymill, Archivist


One thought on “Mysteries in the archives

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